Looking Back at 2018

It’s that time again to reflect back on the adventure racing year that was. 2018 was a big year for the team. After going back and forward for a number of years with Chris and Michelle Delaney from Port Macquarie to do a race together, we finally hatched a plan to tackle the Adventure 1 series along with Ali and Dan McLachlan in addition to a few ring-ins along the way. (Link’s to all the relevant race reports are include in the summaries below).

First up in January was X-Marathon. The Adventure Junkie’s are always guaranteed to put on a spectacular course and the journey tracking the Snowy River down to the ocean at Marlow in Victoria didn’t disappoint. Racing with Dan, Ali and Darren Smith, the Australia Day heat took its toll but we managed to grovel our way to the finish line for a 6th placing. Despite the 40+ hours of punishment, this was still one of my favourite courses for the year.

Ali McLachlan at X-Marathon in January

February saw me team up with Dave Schloss for the Bayside Paddlegaine hosted by the QLD Rogaine Association. Who knew we had such an amazing paddle playground right on our doorstep waiting to be discovered. We were edged out by just a single check point into second place by Dylan Magee and Gavin Cole. These guys are relatively new to the scene but keep an eye out for them as I suspect they will improve into a force to be reckoned with.

Map preparation for the Bayside Paddlegaine in February

Only into March and it was the big goal race for the year: GODZone. Returning to NZ for the fourth time for this race, I had the fortune to hook up with Pete, Dave and Lou from team CBRAR for the Fiordlands edition out of Te Anau. The organisers were promising something a little different for the 2018 GODZone edition with an extended course and they didn’t fail to deliver. The course was epic taking in some of the most challenging rivers and terrain I’ve encountered in a race, including a single packraft stage that took 75 hours (3 days, 3 hours) to complete. With some fantastic team work and a steady approach, the team managed to finish 16th overall in a field of over 70 teams. Furthermore, we were the second international team which saw us in the cash prize money.

Team CBRAR-Rogue packrafting at GODZone

Returning back home, in April we hosted the Colts Raid and Scatter Raid events out of Wivenhoe. With only a small field, it was still encouraging to see the next generation of adventure racers out giving it a crack on the Colts Raid course. Hopefully this is something we will see grow more into the future.

The next generation of racers at the Colts Raid

In May we held the ninth edition of the Rogue Raid 24 hour adventure race out of Lake Samsonvale. The race hosted one of the largest fields of adventure racers for a 24 hour event in Australia ever, also serving as the second stop in the Adventure 1 series.  Dan, Ali, Michelle and Chris teamed up and executed a perfectly managed pacing strategy to see themselves catapulted into second place in the race on the very last checkpoint, moving the team to within striking distance of the Adventure1 podium. Later in May I also teamed up with Gary Sutherland to take a win in the 6 hour Cyclegaine held in the granite country near Stanthorpe.

Team Rogue at the Rogue Raid in May

The first long weekend of June is, of course, the Mecca of Australian adventure racing as teams make the annual pilgrimage to the NSW north coast for GeoQuest. This year is the first time I’ve missed the race in 11 years, however the Rogue team name was in safe hands with the Port Macquarrie couples whose third placing saw the team climb onto the Adventure1 podium for the first time in the series. Towards the end of June I teamed up with Paul Elby for the 12 hour rogaine at Kingaham. After being in virtual first place upon collecting our last control, it was a harsh reminder that the race isn’t over until you cross the finish line as a couple of late navigation errors on the run home cost us a 130 point penalty and the win. Still, it was a fantastic and satisfying day out in the bush with map and compass in hand.

In July the Raid series hosted the inaugural Wildfire Raid, a six hour sprint race around the bushland and single track network of Redland Bay. Look for this race to make an exciting return in 2019.

Competitors take off at the Wildfire Raid

In August I returned to knock off my tenth Hells Bells after missing the race the previous two years through injury. I was joined by Chris and Michelle Delaney along with Luke Nuttall from team Traces of Nuts. There was a very competitive field toeing the start line at Noosaville.  We managed to get away to a great start and mix it up for first place with team Peak Adventure. A time bonus based rogaine section threw the whole race standings on their head however, with our official result a third place in the premier mixed category. Fortunately, however, our team fared better than some of the other top teams in the Adventure 1 series which meant that we in fact consolidated our standings on the ladder. Also in August, Dan and Ali tackled the 24 hour Australasian Rogaine Champs in Queensland finishing as fifth mixed team.

Stepping off the abseil at the Hells Bells

In September I teamed up with Dave Schloss again for the fourth running of the Mojo Raid 12 hour Adventure Race. With an all new race location including some picturesque paddling on Lake Moogerah and a spectacular ascent of Mt Greville, we had a title to defend. Sweeping the course with 19 minutes to spare, we duly managed to do so.

Liam and Dave at the Mojo Raid

At a time of year when the season would usually be wrapping up, October eventuated into a big month for the team kicking off with the Wildside 50 hour Adventure Race. With the Adventure 1 series win firmly secured by team Thought Sports, there was still plenty to play for between team Rogue and team Thunderbolt. As the maths worked out, whoever managed to cross the line first would decide who would finish second and third in the series (including a $1000 bump in the prize pool). Joined by Gary Sutherland, Ali and Dan, the team executed a relatively flawless race, pushing all the way for the win and tying up second in the Australian National Series. Later that month I was again joined by Dave Schloss to win the 3 hour Metrogaine, a result that (through the miracle of mathematics) was enough to pip Dave for the title of QLD Rogainer of the Year.  The year was then wrapped up with the sixth annual running of the Urban Raid to a field of over 230 competitors in December.

Trekking to the win at Wildside

Reflecting back over the racing season, it really has been a break through year for the team. Multiple race podiums including a second place in the Adventure 1 National Series and a couple of big wins suggests the team has what it takes to mix it up at the front with some of the best teams in the country. No doubt as the core team race more and more together we’ll continue to improve as a unit. At the same time, it’s been great mixing it up with a wide cast of team mates this year and sharing the adventure.

In a way it’s hard to believe we are already staring down the barrel of 2019. The team will again be targeting the Adventure 1 series which kicks off in January with Alpine Quest at Falls Creek. I’ll be racing with Dan and Ali McLachlan with team newcomer Norman Kobelke. The format and location look promising.  Dan, Ali, Michelle and Chris will be teaming up to represent Rogue at the Raid 100 which is shaping up to be an Adventure Racing odyssey – 100 check points spread over 100 hours of stunning border country terrain. We also have a firm commitment to racing GeoQuest and I’ll be making a return in March to the Max Adventure sprint race where this sport all began for me 13 years ago. Throw in the not-to-be-missed local rogaines, likely appearances at the Adventure 1 series races in the second half of the year and plans being hatched around some notable big international races towards the end of winter, and 2019 is shaping up to be a big year. Can’t wait to bring it on.

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